Powerboat racers injured in Key West race

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Two offshore powerboat racers from New Jersey were injured Sunday on the final day of competition at the Key West World Championship, where three participants died during the event.

Owner/driver Robert Vesper and throttleman Danny Crank were taken Sunday to Lower Keys Medical Center after their 38-foot Warpaint slammed into a wave during the last of three race days. Their injuries were not believed to be serious, according to media reports.

Some close to the sport had suggested that the final race be canceled after the deaths of racers Wednesday and Saturday, but Super Boat International President John Carbonell insisted that the world championship continue.

Racer Joey Gratton, 59, of Sarasota, Fla., died Saturday from injuries suffered Friday when his 38-foot Superboat 850-class Skater catamaran, Page Motorsports, rolled over twice on the final lap of a seven-lap race.

On Wednesday, racers Robert M. Morgan, 74, of Sunrise Beach, Mo., and Jeffrey Tillman, 47, of Kaiser, Mo., died when their 46-foot catamaran Big Thunder Marine violently crashed in Key West Harbor.

It had been 16 years since a racer had died at a Key West World Championship.

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